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A Coffee Shop Pops Up Along the L.A. River

The NELA Riverfront Collaborative is an interdisciplinary project that builds upon the growing momentum of efforts already underway to transform the Los Angeles River into a "riverfront district" and to create a focal point of community revitalization. KCET Departures is the media partner of the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative. For more information visit the website www.mylariver.org

Update: Join Cafecito Organico this Saturday and Sunday, January 11 and 12, at the Elysian. You can also rent a bike and stroll through the neighborhoods or along the river, take a bird watching tour (9am and 10am, Saturday only), and enjoy a breakfast afterwards. Elysian is located at 2806 Clearwater St. Los Angeles, CA 90039

Sipping coffee along a river may conjure up thoughts of a café along the Thames River in London or the Seine River in Paris. For Angelenos, coffee along the L.A. River is now a reality as RAC Design Build and Cafecito Orgánico have teamed up to hold a pop-up coffee shop along the river's pedestrian and bike path in Elysian Valley.

Named after the 24.7 mile marker along the river bike trail (between Coolidge and Denby Avenues) where RAC Design Build's back patio opens up to, the 24.7 River Café will be open from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. this Saturday, September 14.

The pop-up coffee shop's first test run took place August 24 during the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative's (NELA RC) planning and mobility workshop, and was a big success. In addition to workshop participants, pleasantly surprised bicyclists and walkers along the trail stopped by to indulge in expertly roasted artisan coffee.

Cafecito Orgánico, whose mission includes sustainable coffee practices through the creation of direct relationships with major coffee growing regions across the world, served long lines the first time around, and expect to serve even more on Saturday.

With the growing interest in revitalizing the L.A. River for the Northeast communities and all Angelenos, the innovative cafe is a sensible idea. The effort activates the river space by engaging visitors beyond recreational use, and builds on the local economic development opportunities that exist around one of the city's best community assets.

A sign attracts passersby on the bike/pedestrian path to the pop-up coffee shop | Photo: Daniel Hanaya

It also exposes the city to committed local businesses, such as RAC Design Build, who make their space not only a place of business, but a space for community and public gathering. Furthermore, the partnership with small business coffee roasters, such as Cafecito Orgánico, creates local economic development opportunities built on socially conscious relationships.

The neighborhood of Elysian Valley is also situated in an area between the river and the 5 freeway that lacks many neighborhood amenities, such as a full market, restaurants, and coffee shops. This Saturday's pop-up coffee shop offers a vision of amenities that can add to the neighborhood. It also encourages bicyclists to pause and not speed through the neighborhood, where many use the trail as a walking path and have to constantly remind bicyclists to share the path with pedestrians in mind.

So, whether you are bicycling the path, taking a neighborhood stroll, or fishing in the river -- swing by the 24.7 River Café. And if you get your early morning caffeine fix, be sure to also come out to attend the last NELA RC summer policy engagement workshop, and participate in creating ideas for more sustainable economic development along the river, like the pop-up coffee shop.. The workshop will take place from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., September 14, at Atwater Crossing in Atwater Village in Northeast L.A.

Bikers and walkers enjoy a sip | Photo: Daniel Hanaya

The pop-up coffee shop is an ideal, heavily trafficked portion of the path | Photo: Jason Chiang

The shop's location right along the river activates the space | Photo: George Villanueva


Top: Photo by George Villanueva.

About the Author

George Villanueva, Ph.D. is a native Angeleno born and raised in the intersecting spaces of East Hollywood, Koreatown, and the Temple-Beverly corridor (now Historic Filipinotown).
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